Saturday, December 7, 2013

Letter to the editor in response to Elkford's plan to 'harvest' deer

Please don’t kill deer, Elkford.  The impending cull is a disturbing about-face from the admirable declaration on your town’s website that “Elkford remains a place where nature prevails – and humanity borrows a bit of space.”

Your committee has worked hard and they’ve followed the advice given in the Urban Ungulate Conflict Analysis written.  The town thinks it has an effective solution to resolve conflict between citizens and deer.  However, the advice was flawed and the solution will not work.

There is no biology or wildlife science involved in the decision to undertake lethal population control.  In fact, it appears that mule deer numbers in SE BC are in troubling decline and the only places with stable populations are towns.  No matter how many deer are seen in un-scientific counts, there is no over-population.  In some of our communities, such as Fernie and Grand Forks, it appears populations in town are also decreasing.

We all have natural habitat within and just beyond our boundaries.  Ungulates are transient and will continue to migrate in and out of town after culling.  In every jurisdiction that culls, it is ongoing and may become an “annual culling program” as it is in Helena, MT, the model for the BC report.  Kimberley is talking about culling again – after 100 deer were killed just 2 years ago.  The cost increases too – rising from $300 to $625 per deer in Cranbrook in their controversial, secretive program last spring.

BC SPCA wrote recently, “the proposed cull actions are not a scientifically sound or sustainable solution.” And further, “an indiscriminate cull like that conducted in Cranbrook which neglects considerations for gender and age class is unethical and contrary to generally accepted principles of wildlife management.” They said communities “must aim to address the cause of the deer habituation, rather than opt for a convenient, short-term action that will divide its’ citizens."

The “harvest” of deer in Elkford is not ethical hunting nor is it a cost-effective way to provide meat to food banks.  The Lake Windermere Rod and Gun Club code of ethics states they have “a deep respect for the game they pursue” and that they will harvest game only in “fair chase”.  Last spring, deer meat cost Cranbrook citizens $13 per pound.

Finally, the emotional and social impact of slaughter hurts communities.  While we are decorating with artificial deer and singing about Rudolph – council plans a slaughter.  The brutal killing method was never devised for wildlife and is considered in-humane outside slaughterhouses.

Elkford, please be true to your theme.  With compassion, tolerance and patience you will prove your willingness to share the “bit of space” that is crucial to the wildlife. 

-Devin Kazakoff

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